Let me set one thing straight: I didn’t write Masks during or in response to Covid.
This book’s inspiration is owed to a Halloween spent at Salem, MA many years ago, wherein a rather ordinary city–albiet, marred with a tumultuous past–came to life in festivity, in anonymity, in freedom.
That being said, the imaginary city of Nymphis, “a city of Masks,” has unfortunately become a reality in our society today. We are expected to cover half our faces in public, and there’s sometimes even subtle judgement when one does not don their mask. But the wide-spread “mask wearing” perhaps could be extended far before Covid as the internet has provided each one of us a means to cover up our true identities, whether it be through avatars or usernames, through avatars or social media sniping.
We’ve been wearing our masks for some time now. We’ve been crusading about our own virtues and values. Each of us is about something, much like the mask of a superhero or supervillain says something about that individual.
There’s a Smile Behind This Mask
It’s become a trite slogan that makes my bile rise to my throat. It’s an expression mostly used in introductions, as a limp means of breaking the ice.
I’ve started using the flip of the statement: there’s a Mask under this smile.
In Masks: The Unmercenaries, there are characters who wear masks only for the festivities, donning them to fit in with the crowd or protect their reputation while they go about shameless revelry. Along that same vein, there are those who put on a mask to protect themselves from themselves, to disassociate from shame, to allow their mask to conjure up a shamanistic trance and become someone/something else. And then there are those who put them on in order to embody something nobler than their mortal, mundane selves, using them to remind themselves of who they are and who they could be, to hold themselves accountable and testify a truth to the city.
As mentioned before, we do this in our own subtle ways. We put on a mask online, or we do so through our bumper stickers, t-shirts, tattoos, etc. “The veil reveals something,” and what I hope this post and my book reveals are our own personal beliefs, convictions, and pitfalls.
The novel hopefully reveals which of the masks we have put on. Are we wearing something to blend against the crowd? Are we wearing something for the sake of revelry? What things do we put on to conjure up something else in an attempt to run or hide from the parts of ourselves we aren’t so comfortable with? What do we put on that serves to witness to some truth or paradigm, or to constrain our behavior towards a particular goal or mold?
Which of the characters are we? Which of the masks do we find ourselves wearing? Who are you in this city of Masks?
I’d love for you to be part of this exploration.
You can read some of the motives of these masks through the first novel of the series, and hopefully will find yourself identifying with one of the characters–for better or for worse.
But you can also become part of Nymphis yourselves. I’m putting together a “city of Masks” wherein I’d love to feature readers of this blog and of my books. If you have an appropriate photo of yourself wearing a mask (not a covid mask), I’ll put you into the city, make you into a “Mask”, and you’ll be added to the culture of this growing universe.
Either direct message me on Twitter with your mask photo or leave a link to your mask photo in the comments below.
Mask Up & Happy Harrowing